The Catholic Church is perceived to be anti-science. That perception is completely false, of course. The Church is one of the few institutions left that actually looks at human biology and acknowledges the facts. And I am not just talking about the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism is created when fertilization is complete. (In layman’s terms, new life begins at conception.)
In our hook-up culture, the Church also acknowledges that it is called the “reproductive” system not the “recreation” system for a reason. Biologically speaking, sex is not a recreational activity.
The Church is also one of few voices that warn about the dangers of surrogacy. Even if done altruistically, surrogacy turns women and children into objects: the woman is just an oven; the child is just a bun.
And yet, the biology of carrying a child in your womb simply cannot be denied. Those precious months are designed to have mother bond with child, even if the woman knows the child is not hers. The damage of severing that bond at birth can last a lifetime.
The UK’s Daily Mail has published some anonymous confessions of surrogates that are quite illuminating. Even though these women know that they have to give the child away, they cannot help but become attached. Here is a sampling:
I am a surrogate mother, and I didn’t want to give up the baby.
I am a few days away from giving birth to this baby. I love her way more that I planned. The thing is, I am a surrogate. This selfless act is turning into the most selfish thoughts.
I am surrogate for an awesome couple but I have bonded so much with this baby I just wanna run away and keep her.
Being a surrogate is the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to give him to his parents today after he was born. I have to keep reminding myself I’m not his mom.
I was a surrogate. It’s my biggest regret in my life even if it made dreams come true. I got nightmares.
Here is one that is shocking, but revealing:
I am a surrogate and 6 months pregnant. I have sex with the bio father of the baby daily. His wife doesn’t know.
As disgusting and wrong as this infidelity is, it makes sense. Why wouldn’t a man feel affection for and attraction to a woman who is carrying his child? I am sure it is pretty common for men to have what we would consider to be “inappropriate” feelings toward his surrogate.
And we haven’t even discussed the most important perspective yet, that of the child. If a surrogate feels devastated by the loss of the baby she carried, imagine how devastated the baby is being ripped from the only person they have ever known. Parents intentionally commission a child that will have this essential bond callously severed. I am sure the damage is, whether the child is aware of it or not, significant.
This is where skeptics usually chime in and say that surrogacy is no different than adoption. On the surface, maybe. But adoption tries to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. It begins with a loss, the inability of a mother and father to raise their child, and is an attempt to rectify that loss. In surrogacy, the loss is intentional. On purpose. As part of the arrangement.
I am reminded of Brian, a son of a surrogate, and his gut-wrenching words about his experience being torn from the woman that carried him (typos and all):
Sometimes it doesnt show up until we are in our teens or young adults and like me sometimes it shows up as a baby when I scream my head off for 6 weeks and they call it colic. They call it stomach gas or an immature neurological system. Nothing can console us. Bull. The truth is that nobody is able to explain it because babies can’t talk. It’s the only way a baby knows how to express itself and its rage and grief and morning is to scream. I wanted my mother and she wasn’t there. I just had to accept it after a few weeks so I quit crying. Just wait. The evidence of babies having stress and knowing who their mothers are at birth is just beginning to come out. You can’t just substitute mothers and expect us to be okay with it. You can have all the love and good intentions in the world but that doesn’t make it okay with us.
Also with the kids ive interviewed, Ive found that they were either sick – more sick than their peers-as babies or colicky. The immune system has a lot to do with stress and babies that are stressed get sick. Only 2 out of the ten seemed like they didn’;t have any problems when they were babies but had a lot of problems once they hit 12 or 13.Emotional problems.
It is basic biology. Women aren’t just ovens, and babies aren’t just buns. There is a deep and lasting biological link that should not be ignored. We cannot turn women into commercial kitchens and expect that the “product” isn’t going to suffer.
I guess the Church is “anti-science” for acknowledging the obvious.
Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly